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21 Apr 2016

IDC Forecasts Virtual Reality Hardware to Soar Past the $2 Billion Mark in 2016

Framingham, Mass, April 21, 2016 – Worldwide shipments of Virtual Reality (VR) hardware will skyrocket in 2016, with total volumes reaching 9.6 million units. Led by key products from Samsung, Sony, HTC, and Oculus, the category should generate hardware revenues of approximately $2.3 billion in 2016. While VR will drive nearly all of the hardware volume in 2016, Augmented Reality (AR) hardware is forecast to ramp up over the next few years. According to the first worldwide AR/VR forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC), the combined device markets will see hardware shipments surge past 110 million units in 2020.

IDC has identified three major device categories across the Augmented and Virtual Reality markets. They include: Screenless viewers that use the screen of specific smartphones to drive an AR/VR experience (example: Samsung Gear VR); Tethered Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) that utilize an existing compute device such as a PC, game console, or even a smartphone to drive a head-worn display (example: Oculus Rift); and Standalone HMDs that integrate processing within the head-worn display itself (example: Microsoft HoloLens). IDC is specifically not forecasting Google Cardboard-based products in its totals, nor any other viewer accessory that lacks electronics.

"In 2016, the first major VR Tethered HMDs from Oculus, HTC, and Sony should drive combined shipments of over 2 million units," said Tom Mainelli, vice president for Devices & Displays at IDC. "When you combine this with robust shipments of screenless viewers from Samsung and other vendors launching later this year, you start to see the beginning of a reasonable installed base for content creators to target."

"Video games will clearly be the lead rationale for people to pick up an Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or PlayStation VR this year," added Lewis Ward, research director of Gaming. "While there have been some launch window hardware shipment hiccups that must be addressed near-term, I'm confident that they will be ironed out before the holiday season. The addition of exciting new titles will lead to a new wave of VR HMD hardware interest among those buying for themselves or family members and friends."

IDC expects AR hardware to take longer to bring to market. "While development kits from players such as Microsoft, Meta, and others point to a strong future in AR hardware, these devices are dramatically harder to produce than VR products," said Mainelli. "Doing this right is more important than doing it fast, and we urge the industry to continue its slow and steady approach to hardware development here, as AR is going to have a profound impact on the way we interact with technology and the way we do our jobs for many years to come. In the meantime, we expect companies to begin experimenting with AR software on devices already in use: smartphones and tablets."

Worldwide Augmented and Virtual Reality Hardware Shipments and 5-Year CAGR (shipments in millions)

Product Category

2016 Shipments

2020 Shipments

2016-2020 CAGR

Virtual Reality Hardware




Augmented Reality Hardware




Source: IDC, April 2016

The new forecast, Worldwide Augmented and Virtual Reality Hardware Forecast, 2016–2020 (Doc #US4114531), provides shipment data for the three major device types, as well as average selling price (ASP) and revenues projections. The report also offers consumer and commercial shipment data.

IDC has identified AR/VR as one of six Innovation Accelerators that will drive digital transformation in the coming years by opening new revenue streams and changing the way people work. As such, analysts are also working on a Spending Guide around the technologies associated with AR/VR. The Spending Guide will measure AR/VR hardware, software, and services spending across key industry verticals and use cases. It is due to be published in June 2016.

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. With more than 1,100 analysts worldwide, IDC offers global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. IDC's analysis and insight helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based technology decisions and to achieve their key business objectives. Founded in 1964, IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company. To learn more about IDC, please visit Follow IDC on Twitter at @IDC.

Regions Covered


Topics Covered

Networking and connectivity devices

For more information, contact:

Lewis Ward

Tom Mainelli

Michael Shirer